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Friday, 18 February 2011

Burgers and Bourbon. Surely life's most perfect companions?


As I get older, an element of intolerance begins to creep up on me and for those of you who know me well, I take great delight in exposing things that seem frankly absurd, or over complicated, just for the sake of it. Yesterday, I had to take a trip to the Apple Store on Regent Street in central London- an easy enough proposition you would think, but really I think I have stumbled into a cult-like future vision of hell for the retail sector.


I needed a very simple component to attach a projector to my 3 year old computer. After wandering around for 10 minutes, I approached the uniformly clad staff in identical blue outfits carrying iPads. 'Sorry, you need to speak to the people with the blue polo shirts', my drone-like operative, (dressed in a blue fleece) shot back, with what looked like a slight electrical glitch/twitch in its neck. Ah! Shop Operative Version 2.0, I presume? Anyway, after searching for the adapter I needed, I managed to stop a polo shirted operative to ask their advice. 'We don't make this adapter any more' he replied, 'your machine is out of date'

So, a computer of roughly 3 years old is now apparently an obsolete piece of junk. How does that reflect on its owner? I ended up selecting an alternative solution which, it was suggested would do the job (turns out it won't) and ventured off to pay. Of course, Apple have to be different, so no tills, no structure and no clarity, just the Version 1.0 blue fleece operatives with scanners.
Apple Store Operatives in China,
on being told the news that Four Roses S.B will be arriving soon.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Apple computers for ironically their... 'simplicity' but to me, this new way of filling a retail space is a throughly impersonal and unrewarding way to do business. But then it hit me- Apple don't really sell products any more, so it doesn't matter... they sell dreams. They sell lifestyles. And with that in mind, I think i'll return to mine, my obsolete computer and a similarly traditional way of enjoying things.

One such enjoyment is the simplicity of a moist, well cooked burger, crisp but flavoursome beef fat chips, washed down with a great bourbon and possibly a malted chocolate milkshake to finish.
Call me old fashioned, (or obsolete version 1.0) but there are timeless flavours afoot here and when it all comes together, the results should not be tinkered with, in search of further refinement.


One distiller, Four Roses, has dared to be simple, with the great idea of Burger and Bourbon evenings - and it was Wednesday that I found myself sitting at Hawksmoor in Covent Garden, famous for their award winning meat. The occasion was the launch of Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch bourbon. And by limited release they mean limited. Just 120 bottles have made it to our shores, weighing in 55.1% ABV.


This release, rather like the Single Barrel release Four Roses is rapidly becoming famous for is the handiwork of Master Distiller Jim Rutledge, who has spared nothing to make the best bourbon at his disposal.
The recipe is a marriage of 10yo, 11yo and 15yo bourbons all at caskstrength.

With the fruity aromas of the bourbon, mixing exquisitely with the slightly rare burger and chips cooked in beef dripping, I set about making some notes. Then I thought; if Apple tried to design this evening, they'd have given up after version 2 and made the whole thing obsolete, because everything works in perfect harmony and they couldn't re-engineer it. Thank god they stuck to iPods.

Four Roses - Limited Edition Small Batch 2010 edition - 120 bottles - 55.1%

Nose: Exceptional bittersweet vanilla notes, combine with freshly cut honeysuckle, coconut and dried apricots. With a dash of water, more earthy /powerful dark leaf tobacco notes appear, with some woody spice if you search for long enough.

Palate: Deceptively sweet and mild on the tongue for a 55% spirit. The tobacco notes are sweeter and more of a lighter Virginian variety, with a big kick of vanilla fudge and some zingy liquorice notes.

Finish: A very weighty finish, with the floral notes returning right at the death.

Overall: As fans of the 'regular release' Four Roses Single Barrel release, this had a lot to live up to, but it has excelled in practically every way. It is different enough to mark itself out as a real player and demonstrates Mr Rutledge's dedication to craftsmanship and leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of great flavour. At £69 it's a steal. You could buy 3 bottles for the price of a 32G iPod touch, that'll be obsolete in a year. From now on, I'm sticking to the mantra of timelessness.

I heard that Steve Jobs doesn't drink alcohol. That figures....